Other than USMC boot camp and layovers, I've never spent much time in California. We have been promising my cousin for years that we would come out to visit her in the Bay Area. This year, we finally decided that we would give our kids this trip for Christmas. Instead of "things" that would probably be outdated in 6 months, we were going to give them, and everyone else involved, memories that would last much longer than the latest Iphone.
After looking at school and work and flight schedules, we decided to start our holiday on December 24th. It turned out to be a clear and calm morning with no flight delays. We actually arrived in San Jose a little early and we found our baggage on the carousel pretty quickly.
When we were choosing a rental car prior to the trip, we tried to find the right mix. we needed something that would fit 5 people with luggage. We also had to keep in mind that we would be driving 6+ hours to L.A. later in the week. We originally reserved a full size car that would fit all of us and our luggage. Once at the Budget Car rental counter we asked about any upgrades (always ask!). We chuckled when the agent said he could upgrade us to a Mustang. Once we told him we had 5 people with luggage, he upgraded us to a Mazda CX9, an SUV with a 3rd row. This ended up being perfect for us.
The drive to My cousins was about 45 minutes from the airport. About halfway there, we ran into rain for about 20 minutes. As it turns out, this would be the only time during our trip that we ran into any type of inclement weather.
My cousin met us and escorted us into the gated community where they live. We were greeted by our aunt, uncle and other cousins, along with a plethora of food ready to consume.
Other than seeing a movie on Christmas Day, the first two days were spent catching up and relaxing. On the 26th we set out to experience some of the Bay area.
Our first stop was the Golden Gate Bridge. This took a little patience and calm driving. I did not expect the traffic and crowds that we experienced trying to get to our viewing spot. I didn't dawn on any of us until we overheard another conversation, that the reason there was such a crowd and heavy traffic here, was because all the National Parks were closed due to the government shutdown. We had to park maybe a half mile away and walk to the top of the viewing area. It was all worth it though. We were blessed with a sunny and clear day. There was no fog or haze to speak of.
Hunger was setting in so we decided to head to pier 39. Once we arrived, food had to be the first stop before the kiddos became too grumpy. We decided on Luigi's Pizzeria. This was a great choice. the food was fantastic! Getting is was about a 15 minute wait which was puzzling to me because about half the tables were open the whole time. It seemed as though they didn't have enough wait/bus staff on hand to take care of both clearing tables and serving. Once seated, the service was great. 7 people, 3 pizzas, drinks and appetizers only totaled around $100ish.
After eating it was time to shop and check out the seals (pew). By the time we were ready to leave it was dark. The lit up city as a back drop was amazing and I don't think my photos give it any justice.
We headed back towards my cousins place, stopping for some Mexican food along the way. Took care of some laundry and relaxed on our last night here. A 6 hour+ drive in California traffic was ahead of us the next day as we head to L.A.